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Republicans gain steam in Senate battle

Republicans are roaring back in the battle to control the 50-50 Senate.

Over the past week, polls show GOP candidates closing the gap in states where Democrats have led all summer — and perhaps pulling away in races that had appeared close for months.

In Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz has inched even closer to John Fetterman. Herschel Walker is neck-and-neck with Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia, and Blake Masters has narrowed Sen. Mark Kelly’s lead in Arizona. And Republican polling shows Adam Laxalt squeezing past Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada.

Meanwhile, Republicans stuck in stubbornly tied red states are beginning to show signs of building more durable advantages. Polls now show GOP candidates J.D. Vance and Ted Budd moving ahead of their Democratic opponents in Ohio and North Carolina, respectively.

The GOP’s momentum on the Senate battlefield is consistent with national polling showing an uptick for Republicans on the generic congressional ballot, as the party holds the edge when it comes to handling most of the issues at the center of the midterm campaign — especially the economy and inflation.

And the recent polls align with the POLITICO Election Forecast, which currently rates the fight for Senate control as a “Toss Up.” Barring an upset elsewhere, if the GOP prevails in at least three of the four “Toss Up” races — Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — it will win the majority. Currently, polling averages show Republicans leading in Nevada and Wisconsin, and trailing — though narrowly — in Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Here is the latest in the 10 states that will decide Senate control:

1.

Arizona

MARK KELLY (D) vs. Blake Masters (R)
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Lean Democratic
RCP polling average: Kelly +2.5 (Last week: Kelly +4.5)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: Biden +4
Eventual margin: Biden +0.3

The most notable new poll this week came from a well-known Phoenix lobbying firm, conducted for two TV stations, which showed Kelly leading Masters by about 3 points.

That’s not only closer than some other public polls — it also diverges from a trend in the other statewide race sharing top billing on the ballot: the open race for governor.

The HighGround poll had Democrat Katie Hobbs narrowly ahead of Republican Kari Lake, by about 1 point. Other polls have showed Kelly running well ahead of Hobbs, and Masters significantly behind Lake.

2.

Colorado

MICHAEL BENNET (D) vs. Joe O’Dea (R)
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Lean Democratic
RCP polling average: Bennet +7.7 (Last week: Bennet +7.7)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: No average
Eventual margin: Biden +13.5

Two new polls from Democratic-leaning firms show Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet on solid footing this week: One showed the incumbent ahead by 11 points over Republican Joe O’Dea, while the other shows Bennet up by 13 points.

3.

Florida

MARCO RUBIO (R) vs. Val Demings (D)
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Lean Republican
RCP polling average: Rubio +5.7 (Last week: Rubio +4.7)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: Biden +1.4
Eventual margin: Trump +3.3

A new poll out Friday from Florida Atlantic University showed GOP Sen. Marco Rubio leading Democratic Rep. Val Demings by 6 points, 48 percent to 42 percent — though Demings continues to run ahead of her ticket-mate, former Gov. Charlie Crist.

4.

Georgia

RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D) vs. Herschel Walker
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Toss Up
RCP polling average: Warnock +2.4 (Last week: Warnock +3.3)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: Biden +2
Eventual margin: Biden +0.3

The two new polls in Georgia this week both point to a dead heat — confirmation that the recent revelations about Walker’s behavior have not significantly derailed the Republican’s campaign.

A Landmark Communications poll had Warnock and Walker knotted at 46 percent, while Warnock had an insignificant, 2-point lead in an InsiderAdvantage survey.

In both surveys, the leader is at 46 percent — short of the majority needed to win the race without a runoff, which would take place on Dec. 6 if necessary.

5.

Nevada

CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D) vs. Adam Laxalt
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Toss Up
RCP polling average: Laxalt +1.2 (Last week: Laxalt +1.7)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: Biden +5.2
Eventual margin: Biden +2.7

A CBS News/YouGov survey this week showed Laxalt just 1 point ahead of Cortez Masto, 49 percent to 48 percent.

That aligned with new polling from Laxalt’s backers at the conservative Club for Growth, which commissioned a survey showing Laxalt ahead by 2 points,

6.

New Hampshire

MAGGIE HASSAN (D) vs. Don Bolduc (R)
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Lean Democratic
RCP polling average: Hassan +5.4 (Last week: Hassan +5.8)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: No average
Eventual margin: Biden +7.2

The only new poll in New Hampshire this week was an internal survey from Republican Don Bolduc’s campaign, showing Bolduc trailing Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan by 2 points, 49 percent to 47 percent.

Internal polls are typically released for a reason, and the underfunded Bolduc was likely trying to attract money to the sometimes-overlooked race. But Friday evening, Senate Leadership Fund canceled planned ad buys in the state, in a sign that the party doesn’t see New Hampshire as a likely flip in November.

7.

North Carolina

Ted Budd (R) vs. Cheri Beasley (D)
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Lean Republican
RCP polling average: Budd +2.8 (Last week: Budd +1.5)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: Biden +2.7
Eventual margin: Trump +1.3

Budd surged past Democrat Cheri Beasley in two new polls this week, including a 6-point lead in a survey from East Carolina University.

The race had remained close all summer, though East Carolina’s polling has been favorable to the GOP candidate: He led Beasley by 8 points in a May post-primary poll from the school, and by 3 points in September.

8.

Ohio

J.D. Vance (R) vs. Tim Ryan (D)
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Lean Republican
RCP polling average: Vance +2.3 (Last week: Vance +0.7)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: Trump +0.5
Eventual margin: Trump +8.2

After months of tied polls, Vance has squeaked past Rep. Tim Ryan in the past week, leading the Democrat by 2 points in a USA Today/Suffolk University poll, and 3 points in the latest tracking survey from the GOP firm Cygnal.

9.

Pennsylvania

Mehmet Oz (R) vs. John Fetterman (D)
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Toss Up
RCP polling average: Fetterman +2.4 (Last week: Fetterman +3.4)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: Biden +5.6
Eventual margin: Biden +1.2

Fetterman led Oz in the polls for months, but the Republican continues to close strong in the run-up to Election Day.

Three new polls this week show either a tied race, or an inside-the-margin Fetterman advantage. And while once-divergent races in other states are starting to converge, it’s notable that the tightening Senate race has come while Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro’s lead over Republican Doug Mastriano is increasing.

10.

Wisconsin

RON JOHNSON (R) vs. Mandela Barnes (D)
POLITICO Election Forecast rating: Toss Up
RCP polling average: Johnson +2.8 (Last week: Johnson +2.8)
2020 RCP polling average 17 days before the election: Biden +6.1
Eventual margin: Biden +0.7

There were no new polls in Wisconsin this week, after last week’s Marquette Law School poll suggested GOP Sen. Ron Johnson had opened up a real lead over Democrat Mandela Barnes.

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Author: POLITICO